Purpose This paper aims to investigate the effect of environmental, social and governance (ESG) controversies on the cost of equity (COE) capital, exploring the moderating role of both positive ESG performance and market securities regulation. Design/methodology/approach This paper adopts a sample of 2,599 time observations related to European listed companies for which the authors examine a set of 30 negative ESG scores across the three pillars in terms of controversies, compliance and other negative issues. This study uses the average of seven implied COE estimates. Findings The results show that negative ESG performance, particularly environmental controversies, increases the COE, although this impact is mitigated when associated with company efforts to improve environmental performance. Besides, environmental controversies are likely to increase the COE in countries where the market regulation is stronger, as a consequence of higher investors’ expectations towards the scrutiny role of more efficient markets against companies’ controversies. Practical implications Companies should take care seriously of environmental issues such as biodiversity, product impact and resource impact, because investors do react accordingly. As despite no direct effects of positive ESG performance are observed in terms of COE reduction, the mitigating role on the ESG controversies–COE relationship makes ESG practices still significant for European investors. Social implications The effects of ESG performance on company financial performance should be investigated under the assumption that bad events weight more than positive ESG performance. Originality/value Because no prior studies have specifically assessed the effect of the European listed companies’ ESG controversies on their COE, this paper delivers insights into the relationship between positive and negative ESG performance and their effects on capital market financing.

ESG controversies and the cost of equity capital of European listed companies: the moderating effects of ESG performance and market securities regulation

Fabio La Rosa;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Purpose This paper aims to investigate the effect of environmental, social and governance (ESG) controversies on the cost of equity (COE) capital, exploring the moderating role of both positive ESG performance and market securities regulation. Design/methodology/approach This paper adopts a sample of 2,599 time observations related to European listed companies for which the authors examine a set of 30 negative ESG scores across the three pillars in terms of controversies, compliance and other negative issues. This study uses the average of seven implied COE estimates. Findings The results show that negative ESG performance, particularly environmental controversies, increases the COE, although this impact is mitigated when associated with company efforts to improve environmental performance. Besides, environmental controversies are likely to increase the COE in countries where the market regulation is stronger, as a consequence of higher investors’ expectations towards the scrutiny role of more efficient markets against companies’ controversies. Practical implications Companies should take care seriously of environmental issues such as biodiversity, product impact and resource impact, because investors do react accordingly. As despite no direct effects of positive ESG performance are observed in terms of COE reduction, the mitigating role on the ESG controversies–COE relationship makes ESG practices still significant for European investors. Social implications The effects of ESG performance on company financial performance should be investigated under the assumption that bad events weight more than positive ESG performance. Originality/value Because no prior studies have specifically assessed the effect of the European listed companies’ ESG controversies on their COE, this paper delivers insights into the relationship between positive and negative ESG performance and their effects on capital market financing.
2022
ESG controversies, ESG performance, Cost of equity, Market securities regulation
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/539358
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